How Delta prepares to take delivery of a new Airbus A321

 Delta inspects every nook on planes before it accepts delivery. All photos: Delta. 

Delta inspects every nook on planes before it accepts delivery. All photos: Delta. 

Delta Air Lines is preparing to take delivery of its first new Airbus A321. But before the first new plane - the first of 45 A321s Delta has ordered -- joins the fleet, the airline tests nearly everything on it. 

“These are multi-million dollar assets that will fly millions of customers millions of miles over their 30-year life with Delta,” Brian Shea, Delta's general manager for fleet management, told the airline's in-house blog.  “We won’t accept anything less than perfect.”

Delta spokesman Michael Thomas is in Hamburg with the 10-member team inspecting Delta's first A321, and he reports the process is intense. 

"Donning orange high visibility vests and armed with equally vibrant orange tape, the team walked every inch of the cabin marking minor production flaws—a window shade stuck in the open position and a seat with a stiff recline, for example," Thomas writes on the blog. 

Team members include a maintenance technician, a quality assurance expert and a lead technician, all of whom check every "movable and aerodynamic surface, [and] inspect thousands of rivets, bolts and other connections from nose to tail, wingtip to wingtip," according to Delta.

In the cockpit, Thomas writes, two fleet captains check on nearly every system. "From testing something as routine the seatbelt sign light, to more the complicated hydraulic and flight systems tests, they left the cockpit confident to fly the jet on its first customer test flight," Thomas writes. 

Delta says the team found no major flaws with the aircraft in 12 hours of checking. The minor stuff, which the team flagged with orange tape, was fixed by Airbus technicians. 

This was not, however, the end of testing. Delta also flies the jets as part of the delivery process. Two former military pilots were planning to "put the aircraft through its paces," Thomas writes.

Did you know the delivery process was so involved?

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